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Give us our daily (gluten free?) bread

I’ve tried giving up wheat to lose a few pounds but I miss it too much when it disappears from my diet

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We have a Norwegian international student staying with us for the year. Her English is quite advanced but occasionally she has to look things up on her phone to get the direct translation. The other day she had a question for me.

“What do you call this kind of bun?” she asked, holding her phone out so I could see the gallery of images.

“Uh … it’s a …. bun …?” I answered.

“Yes but what kind of bun? In Norway, we have buns you eat for breakfast, buns for taking in the car, buns with dinner, and they all have different names. In Norway, the bun is the heavy one that we eat when we are really hungry, like after sports.”

I pondered the question for a moment. “Well, we call them all buns. But then we describe them with an adjective. Like sticky bun, bread bun, dinner roll … panini, croissant, Kaiser bun. …”

She shook her head. “Maybe you just don’t have real buns. I will make some. You will see what I mean.”

We headed to the grocery store so Mina could bake her buns. She was a little disappointed to see that we didn’t have fresh baker’s yeast and a bit perplexed by the wide variety of the powdered kind. She was slightly horrified to discover that some of our flour appears to contain bleach. We bought the one that was labelled bleach- and GMO-free, enriched with vitamins.

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When Mina first arrived in Canada at the end of August, she asked me if I baked my own bread. Ha!

I told her I occasionally baked zucchini or banana bread, but I was pretty sure that didn’t count as it didn’t take any real skill. But when it comes to bread, I try to buy fresh bread from the bakery and not the pre-packaged, preservative-laden kind. We don’t eat a lot of bread, the Farmer and I, so I freeze half the loaf and it lasts more than a week.

Mina eats a lot of bread.

Each week, I buy rye bread (for her liverwurst – another favourite lunch or breakfast), sourdough, oat bread, bagels and muffins. She knows the muffins are really more like cake and she treats them that way. She comes from a very active family (her dad imports skis) and she runs nearly every day. She can eat cake.

The next thing that came up in discussion was the trend toward a gluten-free diet. I told Mina that many people are choosing this way of eating for health reasons – because they find wheat gives them ‘foggy brain,’ or it’s difficult to digest and gives them a bloated belly. I showed her my friend’s Love My Buns miracle bread made of coconut flour. The creator developed it as a way to feed her daughter, who has autism. She says taking gluten out of her child’s diet has helped her immensely in her development.

Mina isn’t likely to give up wheat any time soon.

I’ve tried giving up wheat to lose a few pounds but I miss it too much when it disappears from my diet. I don’t have celiac disease and I’m not gluten intolerant – but I do notice the foggy brain and wheat belly when I eat too much processed white flour, rice or pasta.

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I’ve done the two-week carb-free diet, the paleo and the sugar detox. None of these are sustainable and you eventually gain the extra weight back. But most recently, I tried a new way of eating that seems to be working. It’s something I used to think of as the housewife’s diet from the 1970s. I signed up for Weight Watchers.

I don’t go to public weigh-ins and meetings. I have an app on my phone that allows me to scan bar codes and calculate the number of food “points” I’m consuming each day. Over the summer, I lost the 25 pounds I had slowly gained over the past 10 years. Now I have more energy, I sleep better, I hurt less and, best of all, everything in my closet fits.

It’s a plan I intend to follow for the foreseeable future. I can eat and drink whatever I want. But with the knowledge that I will have to pay in points, I’m less likely to overindulge and gain the weight back.

And best of all, I can eat the buns. No matter what they’re called.

Troy Media columnist Diana Fisher is a freelance writer living on a 200-acre farm along the Kemptville Creek in Oxford Mills, Ont.

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